The Silent Epidemic—Noise Induced Hearing Loss in Children

06/20/2023 | Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

If you’re worried that your child may be experiencing hearing loss, then you should seek help from a qualified hearing care professional right away.

For many people, hearing loss is a common condition that comes with getting older. And while hearing loss can be an unfortunate side effect of the aging process, the reverse is now true with more and more children, teens, and young adults now experiencing hearing loss.

In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in eight children ages six to 19 already have hearing damage from loud noises. And the World Health Organization suggested recently that they expect the number of global hearing loss cases to double by the year 2050. So, what’s causing the hearing health crisis? And what can be done about it?

What’s Causing the Hearing Loss Epidemic in Children?

When we hear the words “noise-induced hearing loss,” we often think of hearing loss that’s caused by a sudden, loud blast of sound—like from an explosion. However, noise-induced hearing loss doesn’t always come on all at once. Instead, hearing loss usually sneaks up on us. It’s often caused by continued exposure to loud noises over time. And you typically won’t notice it until your hearing is already damaged.

So why are more children suffering from hearing loss than ever before? Well, we have modern society to thank for that. Overall, the world is much noisier than it used to be. Especially in urban areas, we’re regularly exposed to loud noises at potentially harmful decibel levels. Think about motorcycles, sirens, loud concerts—and yes, headphones are another culprit of hearing loss. 

Today, people are wearing headphones all day long. Earbuds like Apple Airpods are especially popular. And younger children and teens are no exception. Many children spend a lot of time on their tablets with headphones on. Often, they’re using these devices in loud areas like restaurants, and they’re turning the volume up to damaging levels. 

While most children who suffer from noise-induced hearing loss have slight cases, and usually only in one ear, this doesn’t bode well for their hearing health as they age. It’s important to be diligent about preventing hearing loss before it begins. After all, once your hearing is gone, it’s gone forever. If you think your child is showing signs of hearing loss, you should seek professional help immediately.

The Impact of Noise Exposure on Hearing Health

The real problem stems from a combination of volume and duration. Our human ears just weren’t made to listen to excessive noise all the time. And since we have such a heavy reliance on modern technology, it can be tough to give our ears a much-needed break.

Our inner ears are lined with tiny hairs. When you’re exposed to noise, those tiny hairs work to trigger your nerve cells to fire. And those cells produce a waste product. Now, when the noise is quiet, not much waste is produced. But if the noise is long enough and loud enough, the waste builds up and begins to kill the cells. And this is why the duration that you’re exposed to loud noises matters.

After hours of exposure, your cells can become overloaded with waste and die, even if the sound is only a few decibels above 85 dB. To put that into perspective, Airpods produce a maximum volume of around 100 dB. 

Preventing and Treating Hearing Loss in Children

When it comes to hearing loss in children, prevention is the first line of defense. Here are some ways to keep your children’s hearing in good health:

  • Do your best to keep them away from loud noises. And if you can’t avoid loud noises, make sure they’re
  • wearing hearing protection.
  • Keep the volume down on TVs, toys, music devices, phones, etc.
  • Get their hearing checked regularly.
  • Don’t let ear infections go untreated—they can cause further damage.

There are a few options for treating hearing loss in children. Hearing aids and cochlear implants can be effective to help manage the symptoms of hearing loss in children. The best course of action will be determined by your child’s level of hearing loss, their age, and their lifestyle.

Concerned About Your Child’s Hearing?

If you’re worried that your child may be experiencing hearing loss, then you should seek help from a qualified hearing care professional right away. Don’t delay when it comes to hearing loss. The longer it’s left untreated, the worse it will get. Here at Holland Hearing, we’re here to support your whole family on their journey to better hearing.

The first step for treating hearing loss is to come in for a comprehensive hearing assessment. We’ll always ensure that this is a friendly and comfortable experience for both you and your child, and we’ll tailor the experience based on your child’s age.

To schedule an appointment, give us a call at (325) 437-4730 or click here to request a callback.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Dr. Kelsi Mangrem AU.D, FAAA

Dr. Kelsi Mangrem received her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, as well as her Doctorate of Audiology from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). Whether a patient, employee, or industry colleague, the philosophy of service to others resonates throughout her character.

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